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Darcy: From Conceded to Kind

             Pride and Prejudice, a novel by Jane Austen, details the many issues and negative aspects of the 19th century British society. The book primarily focuses on the institution or marriage and is a critique of how her contemporaries saw marriage simply as a means for advancing social classes or to achieve a secure living. Most people of the time did not marry for love.
             In the first half of the novel, the reader is lead to believe that Mr. Darcy was conceited and proud. During the Meryton assembly, Darcy refuses to dance with any of the ladies present. Mrs. Bennet describes Darcy as being as "a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him!" (14).
             Later on in the novel, Darcy proposes to Elizabeth. She refuses because she does not love him. She is the heroine of the novel because she is oblivious to social classes and seeks more out of marriage than money and social power. At the time, Darcy was one of the 400 richest men in all of England (319) and was well above her social class, meaning Elizabeth would have much to gain by marrying him.
             Elizabeth cited Mr. Wickham's dispute with Darcy as a major reason for not wanting to marry Darcy. Darcy writes Elizabeth a letter detailing the true nature of his past with Wickham. Elizabeth sees that Darcy is not such a conceded man after all and that perhaps she was in the wrong when she refused his marriage proposal and insulted him. She reaches Pemberly shortly after having read Darcy's letter with the understanding that Darcy was not to arrive at his estate until the next day. Two things happen when she reaches Pemberly: she falls in love with the estate and Darcy arrives a day early.
             Elizabeth complements Darcy's estate and taste: "Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings" (202).

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